And just like that, winter clasped its ugly hand over my mouth and stifled the words that would be.
“It’s been a long time since you posted anything,” Facebook notification reminds me.
I know. I know it has, but there’s two types of too hard- too hard that I have to write and too hard to write. It’s been the latter.
And I question why? Would I feel less restless if I had a reason?
But I see the “smaller” reasons: my dad’s sudden surgery, the court date and roller coaster of foster care, the hard anniversaries. And then of course there’s the seasonal sadness because it’s winter, period. These really aren’t small, but compared to the storm that crashed its waves in 2018, I feel like these reasons aren’t valid for the funk I’ve been in.
I’ve been finding myself at a loss, what to say? What to offer? How can I share a message I’m currently searching for?
But maybe this is the raw that needs revealed.
The message is this: I’m still in the middle.
I’m still in the middle, the middle of messy, the middle of pain, the middle of struggle.
So many testimonies and books and blogs are so wonderful and inspiring when one is on the other side of suffering and you can see the bow tie, when the storm clouds are gone and the sun shines clear and meaning unfolds.
I can’t say I’m there yet.
And I have to tell you, that no sooner do I write that then I’m hit with a wave of false guilt for daring to express anything other than glee when so much has been relieved. Certainly, the storm in 2018 in many ways ended. But the reality is also that a lot of it has not. There are aspects of that season that will never be healed this side of earth. And others that will just take much more time.
I battle PTSD, and the last few weeks have had me in a prevalent stretch of it. Maybe for all those reasons listed before. But it hits me the other day, the reason I think it’s mostly agitated.
Things are starting to move towards adoption for our foster girl and us.
And this terrifies me.
Because, as it hits me, I realize this: expecting little ones to be added to our family triggers trauma.
These months of waiting, and hoping, and planning, isn’t this a reminder of pregnancy?
Can I even type that confession without wincing? I cannot.
I cannot, just like I cannot keep from flinching through this whole post, and flinching through life.
I’m so tired. Tired of flinching, tired of PTSD, and I cry it to my Bible Study tribe: I’m so. tired.
It seems this is my thorn in my side, and I keep begging God way more than three times to take it away, yet He responds, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Sufficient for PTSD and depression and anxiety and grief. And His power is made perfect in my weakness, and I am so, so weak.
Maybe this is the testimony we’re thirsty for.
The testimony that declares “I am weak, I am in the middle, I can’t see the bow tie yet and it may not even be earth-side coming.”
But isn’t it faith that even names it “the middle”?
“He will not leave me here.” Those words He gave me through that storm in 2018, and He played it on repeat in my mind and soul over the months of suffering. I remember going in for a cystogram after weeks upon weeks of trauma, and I was pretty deliriously battered by that point. They opened the door into the exam room and I just started sobbing, before the test was even administered, before the injury even confirmed, but I was staring down yet another invasion and that was enough to push me over because it felt like the storm would never end. I sobbed it out loud to the nurse who had no idea what she was in for when she handed me that gown: “He is trustworthy and He is good, and He will NOT leave me here.” I sobbed it, hysterically while taking the gown and I sobbed it again weeks later with the catheter strapped to my leg, and I’ve sobbed it again in the weeks recent, when battling a mind that cannot stop fearing whenever the other shoe will drop.
But He will not leave me here. Just like He didn’t leave me there.
And yes, He ended the activity of that storm and He spared my life and He healed my bladder and He showed Himself the Provider in so many ways; but He took my baby and my fertility and my mother-in-law’s health and He left me with a broken heart and a thorn stuck through my mental health.
But He won’t leave me here.
I am in the middle, and this is my declaration that this is not the end. There is another side to this, and I ache for it and I am desperate for it, desperate for the breakthrough and the eyes to see what great things He has done from this tragedy, and to feel healed and whole, but I am not there yet.
I am not there yet.
But I believe I will be one day.
Whether earth-side or if I have to wait until heaven, I will be one day.
The daffodils are starting to come up in the yard, and it’s always a special beauty to me to see them push through in February. February, one of the hardest months of the whole year for me, when winter seems to suffocate and the season never end, then, just then, those flowers have the audacity to push through.
I look in the yard, and I see them, pushing through, though they’ve not bloomed yet. They’re in the middle, but they will, they’ll keep pushing through and they’ll open to bloom and unfold with grace. And winter will end, seasons change.
At some point, the other shoe will drop. Something else bad will happen, and hard will hit again, and loss come. Seasons will change, but winter will come again. And I think that’s one of the hardest things about trauma. It’s the knowing it’s not really over.
But it is finite, as is all winters, and this I bring to mind: though winter will come again, there will always be another side of winter. It will end, and He won’t leave me there. And in between winters comes other beautiful, healing seasons that produce in us an equipping for the next winter.
I don’t know how long I’ll wrestle PTSD, how long I’ll keep fighting the flinching and feel parched for peace. I know the right theology and have the “answers” and I believe it all in my heart. But the healing I need is of brain, not belief, and of spirit, not soul. In ways this is the greatest of frustrations. How can one have the pieces of the puzzle but be unable to see the picture? I post verses around my house and carry them with me, the prayers are constant, the worship music steady. I’m grasping at these tools and begging for the breakthrough, but He offers daily manna.
Will I be content with this? Will I allow this desperate clutching to the spiritual tools around me to be a feast of daily manna that I receive with gratitude or will I only find myself frantic until I’m on the other side of this?
I choose gratitude, though at times the choice is easier than others, and it’s certainly a daily battle, I choose gratitude. Gratitude for the verses and songs and books and prayers and even the very desperation that drives me there. Because isn’t this all sustenance from the Almighty Sustainer? Yes, I still want the breakthrough; but these are bits of daily bread from Father Himself.
No, I cannot see the picture, but faith is not of sight. I cannot see the picture and I cannot seem to feel the right things and my mind is a war zone, but I hold to His promises and I know He will make beauty from ashes and He will make winter end and someday, someday I will no longer be in the middle. I’ll be on the other side, I’ll be one of “those” who can look back and see the great things He did when I was in the middle. He makes the daffodils bloom in February and Who knows what beauty He’s making in my season now.
I look at one of the verses I’ve written: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious, merciful, and righteous,” (Psalm 112:4).
He is trustworthy, and He is good. And He will not leave me here.